“It Would Have Been Nice to Have a Choice”: Barriers to Contraceptive Decision-making among Women with Disabilities

Willi Horner-Johnson, Krystal A. Klein, Jan Campbell, Jeanne Marie Guise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Engaging in contraceptive decisions is an important part of reproductive health for women and other people with the capacity for pregnancy. However, not all individuals capable of pregnancy have equal access to information and/or opportunities to make fully informed decisions. The goal of this study was to understand barriers women with disabilities experience around contraceptive decision-making and whether these differ based on type of disability. Methods: We conducted focus groups with 17 reproductive age adult women (aged 18–45 years). Focus groups were homogenous with regard to disability type and consisted of one group for each of the following disability categories: 1) physical disability, 2) intellectual and developmental disabilities, 3) blind or low vision, and 4) Deaf users of American Sign Language. Data were collected in the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area during 2016–2017. We analyzed focus group transcripts using content analysis. Results: Barriers to informed contraceptive decision-making emerged in five main thematic areas: 1) lack of information in accessible formats, 2) incomplete information about contraceptive side effects, 3) limited clinician knowledge and relevant research specific to the care of women with disabilities, 4) taboos around discussing sexual activity, and 5) limited opportunities for shared contraceptive decision-making. Conclusions: Women with disabilities faced numerous barriers to contraceptive decision-making. Although the barriers differed somewhat by disability type, many barriers were consistent across groups, suggesting commonalities associated with the experience of disability in the context of contraceptive decision-making. Increased attention to the reproductive health needs of people with disabilities is important for improving health care equity and quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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